Jordan Ash played with the 15 and Under Illinois Wolves team last summer despite just graduating from 8th grade. Playing with older players was a difficult transition for him, but the experience was worth it.
"I think my game is coming along pretty well. Last year, I had some things I had to work on. Over the past summer I went to the gym, and I worked on it with my AAU coaches and high school coaches. And then throughout the whole high school season, I was able to work on things that were weaker from the past AAU season."
The 6'-1" lefty point guard used last summer as a motivator for hard work.
"I wanted to use my right hand more often, and my outside shooting. Midrange shooting obviously. And just using my vision, calming down and just playing basketball."
He was primarily an outside shooter last summer, to good effect. But it wasn't good enough for the ambitious Ash.
"It didn't fall as much as I wanted to. I can always work on something to get it better. It's something I have to work on."
He began to show more of his explosiveness late last July. But humility makes him credit his teammates rather than himself.
"It was because we started playing better basketball as a team. When a team plays better, it helps every individual. Me being a point guard and leader out there, it kind of made me feel better that my teammates were getting what they wanted at a time we were winning. So it helped me to calm down and just play basketball."
Now, he is comfortable playing with the 16U Wolves team while doubling with his normal age group in AAU tourneys this spring and summer.
"It's not a problem for me. I'm a leader with 15's, and with the older group I'm just doing what I did last year. Whatever role I have to play, that's what I'll do."
Ash is contributing more to the 16U team this year, but he shows special qualities with his own age group.
"With the 15's, I'm a leader because I've done it for a year. So I'm out there basically just showing what I know."
Ash benefits from the coaching he receives with the Wolves.
"It's a great blessing for me to be able to play with these guys. Coach (Mike) Mullins runs the best AAU program in the country. So for me to be a part of this, it's a great opportunity for me."
Ash is accustomed to winning with the Wolves, so expect the same in his future at St. Josephs of Westchester. Legendary coach Gene Pingatore has a stable of quality young guards to go along with Ash. As they mature together, they should become a formidable opponent in the next year or two.
"I played Junior Varsity last year, and it went pretty well. We had freshman Glynn Watson, who is on the 15U team, Joffery Brown and this other freshman Wade Sims. We were just out there having a ball. We were able to have fun while at the same time learning the system."
Upcoming junior Paul Turner, a potential high major recruit in his own right, is also at St. Josephs. Ash is excited about the future of the school's basketball program.
"High school season should be great because we're all getting better. We all play as a team. We excel and it shows."